Last night I visited with my therapist. It has been two weeks since I’ve seen her and I’ve done a lot of hard things. I adopted a new puppy into our home, I’ve been managing on a super tight budget, I’ve been dealing with teenager attitude, a waterlogged school laptop, and a sick child. All the while, I’ve been reading, painting, writing, spring cleaning and working on my marriage. I’ve had bad days, but I haven’t had any suicidal thoughts. Its been so long since I’ve had them, I can’t even remember when the last time was. I’m confronting difficulties instead of avoiding them. That’s huge.

Recovery from depression is a long and winding process. I’ve suffered from it for so long, I’ve learned to protect myself from the mood whiplash that comes when you have a good day. A good day doesn’t mean there aren’t a ton of bad days ahead. I’ve learned not to be too excited even though my depression has faded with the cold winter nights. Day after day and week after week I’ve noticed that I’m more motivated. I hold my head up, even when things go wrong.

This is Austin and Pepper at the park. Getting out of the house and spending time outside helps me manage my depression.

Even with the confusion created after the summary of the Mueller report that came out last week, I’ve managed to avoid a downward spiral. I evicted Donald Trump from my brain. I said, “Donald, you’re a real estate guy. You understand how this works. You haven’t paid your rent, and you can’t stay in my head anymore.” I haven’t missed him.

So in light of all the positive signs, I keep watching my therapist as session after session comes and goes and she is all smiles and encouragement. I double back and think, “Am I painting too rosy of a picture here?” Ben is there too, and he is all smiles too.

In fact, he is doing really well. He is taking a class online to teach himself new technical and programming skills. His boss loves him and he’s going to get a raise soon. He is managing conflicts and inspiring people everywhere he goes. In our marriage, we are learning to confront old resentments and trust each other enough to ask for what we need. Friday I was thinking about how much I love him and wanted to do something special for him.

He’s a tough cookie when it comes to showing him love. Often he refuses to show emotion, even when he is pleased. That makes it hard to know when I’ve hit the mark. I ask him what I can do to show him I love him, and he usually demurs. I thought about how I keep asking him to do projects like my swing chair in my room. I wanted him to hang it up that weekend, but his garage is a mess. It’s mostly me. I tend to run things a little messier than most people. I find tools and supplies spur my memory to complete tasks. If I put them away, I forget about the project. Sometimes I just forget to put stuff away when the project is finished. It’s an ADHD thing. Anyway, the garage was a labyrinth of gardening tools, paint, empty boxes, expired fertilizer, and kid’s bikes, trikes, and scooters.

Ben is the kind of guy who clears his desk at the end of each day. He keeps everything in its place including his shirts which he sorts carefully in the closet. It’s tough being married to someone who is constantly messing up your space. The garage is his place, and I’ve been messing it up and then asking him to work in it. That’s got to eat at him.

I decided I would surprise him. I cleaned the garage. I gathered up a huge lawn and garden bag full of trash. I threw away old boxes. I organized the gardening bins, and swept the floor. I organized old paint and put tools away. I was astounded at how much I was able to do even while watching Austin and Pepper. Austin ate in the driveway in his old highchair. He loved it! Exploring the junk in the garage was fun for him. Pepper spent a lot of the day in her play pen. It took me all day, but by the time I was finished, it wasn’t just clean, it was clean enough to pull the van into the garage. We’ve been in this house for almost three years and we’ve never parked the van in the garage.

Austin plays in the garage after I finished cleaning.

He was appropriately delighted when he came home and saw the surprise I had for him. He did manage to squeeze the van into the garage, but it is a tight fit. We still have a lot of work to do, things to sell, shelves to build, and bins to buy; but we are making good progress and I think my message of love was well received.

Ben helped me hang my swing chair in my room last Saturday. Behind the chair is my Mandala wall. I plan to do a post on designing, making, and displaying mandalas, but I haven’t writteppn it yet.

In my past depressive episodes, I’ve noticed that housework is one of the first things to be neglected. It is one of the last things to improve. When I start feeling better, I start organizing and purging. I start making my home into a place I like living in. I am well into that stage of my recovery, and that is worth celebrating!

Looking back on this depressive episode, it has been a crazy ride! I went to see my psychiatrist and told him I was struggling even after the increase he gave me in my meds. He suggested counselling. “Just a few sessions to help you find your voice,” he said. I put off making the appointment for months. I didn’t want to talk to a new person, but I didn’t want to drive up to Carrolton to see my old therapist. Finally, it got so bad that I was regularly having suicidal thoughts and I made the appointment. That was a year ago.

I’ve had intense therapy every week for almost a year. It has been five months since I started publicly sharing my journey, first on Facebook and then on my blog. I’ve learned so much about myself this time! I’m so glad I have chosen a path of healing for myself and my family. It has been excruciatingly hard sometimes, but the rewards have been amazing.

Ever since I started writing about my depression publicly, I’ve had people who have encouraged me and given me the guts to write again. I’ll never forget those people. I remember every hug, every text, every Facebook message, every post, every meal, every prayer sent up in my behalf. For every person who has seen the posts of my artwork and left some love, thank you. There are angels who walk this planet, and I am blessed to know quite a few! Even people who have hurt me have done so with the best of intentions. Not everyone understands depression, and sometimes that means that helping hands and well-meaning words hurt. That’s okay.

For anyone who is reading this that might be at the beginning of a depressive episode, or is in a close relationship with someone who is, there is hope! Suffering in silence, ignoring the pain, silencing people who try to point out the obvious, trying so hard to convince yourself that you don’t need help; just take the depression pill and/or, talk to the counselor. There is help! There is hope! You don’t need to live like this. It isn’t weakness or selfishness; it is strength and courage. You deserve more. Your family deserves more. They deserve a healthy you.

I finally feel like I’m becoming the person that my Savior created me to be; a fearless, creative, writer, artist, gardener, dog whisperer, loving mother, and fierce friend. I have value and purpose. I have a glorious future following my Master as he leads me to green pastures. May His blessings fall like a spring rain on each soul who has crossed paths with me! Happy trails.

I started this painting after my trip to Paris last spring. I was finally able to finish it a few weeks ago.
When I decided I wanted to paint this, I thought it was too hard for me. In spite of that, I tried anyway and its one of my favorite paintings!
I’ve never painted an animal before, so this was a challenge for me. This is our new dog Pepper.

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